In Which I Take a Break

I've decided to take a indeterminate break from posting recipes here...please enjoy those already posted!

-The Redwall Cook


Candied Nuts

"Sloey the mousebabe filled her apron pockets with candied nuts and dashed off with the other Dibbuns to play hide-and-seek."
-The Long Patrol, p. 192

These crunchy, vanilla-spiced nuts are a great on-the-go snack, as Sloey proved :)

A few years when I had a Redwall feast, I sewed small pouches, filled them with candied nuts, tied them shut with ribbon and gave them out as party favors. 

They're quick, easy, and any nut can be used - chestnuts and hazelnuts are Redwall favorites, but today I used almonds. 

Candied Nuts
Makes 1 cup of nuts

-2 Tbsp. water
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
-1 cup raw nuts 

1. Combine water, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is boiling (this will only take a short time). 

2. Add the nuts to the pan and stir to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. After two minutes have passed, stir vigorously. The sugar will begin to crystallize on the nuts. It will go from a thick, caramel-y stage to a dusty-looking stage. When it just reaches this 'dusty' stage, remove pan from heat and continue to stir vigorously for about 30 seconds. Place nuts on a plate and allow to cool completely before enjoying. 

Note: I made this recipe with 1 1/2 cups of almonds, but decided they needed more coating and changed the recipe to 1 cup nuts. Therefore, nuts made with this recipe will be slightly more coated than those pictured.


Traveling Fruit and Honey Cake

    "In the predawn light they breakfasted on clear streamwater and a traveling fruit and honey cake that Rimrose had baked two days before."
-Marlfox, p. 8

This cake is hearty, moist, lightly-spiced, and studded with cranberries, currants, and apple -  in a nutshell, a perfect 'journeying' food. 

It's topped with almonds, and filled with ingredients like freshly squeezed orange juice, tea, and allspice. It might sound a bit like fruitcake, but I promise - this tender,  mildly-flavored cake is much tastier (that is, unless you love fruitcake).

On top of all that, it's easy to make, and as far as most cakes go, fool-proof.  

Here's a few photos of the process, followed by the recipe:

Traveling Fruit and Honey Cake
Makes 1 large loaf and 1 mini loaf


- 1 black tea bag
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (juice of one small navel orange)
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup currants (raisins can be substituted)
- 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries (AKA Craisins)
- 1 small Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4" chunks

1. Preheat  oven to 350 F. Spray and flour 1 large loaf pan and 1 mini loaf pan (if you don't have a mini loaf pan, you could make a few muffins - adjust the baking time as necessary). Measure 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp.  hot water into a measuring cup and add the tea bag. Set aside to steep.

2. Toss the currants, cranberries, and apple chunks with the 2 tablespoons flour. Set aside. Whisk together the 1 3/4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla. Remove the tea bag from the measuring cup and add the tea as well. Mix thoroughly, making sure to incorporate all the dry ingredients. Add the fruit and stir gently until just combined. 

3. Divide the batter between the pans. Sprinkle almonds over batter, and bake for 50 min. to 1 hour, until the surface of the cakes are browned and slightly springy, and a skewer inserted into the centers comes out clean (the small loaf may take slightly less time).  Cool for 15 min. before removing from pans (I waited all night, and the cakes were difficult to remove). 


In Which a Home-school Prom Prevents Me From Posting a Recipe

{Redwall + gardening books}

This week has been crazy-busy - I've been helping plan and produce a home-school prom, which will take place this weekend. There's been lots of cooking involved. Our theme is 'Asian Garden', and our menu includes teriyaki chicken, broccoli slaw, and a custom ice cream sundae bar.

Yesterday I made a couple gallons of teriyaki sauce, and today I'm figuring out how to make a huge quantity of rice. I've also been planning and starting a kitchen garden. With all this, I haven't had time to try a new Redwall recipe.

However, I'm planning on relaxing and making lots of delicious food next week, and I'm sure some of it will make it's way here. I brought a new batch of Redwall books home from the library, and they were very inspiring. I want to make more desserts and fruit dishes, as well Mossflower Wedge and homemade bread.

Okay, I officially need to stop thinking about this! I'm on a (very) mini-diet in order to drop a couple pounds before the dance (so I'll be more comfortable in my fitted dress), and writing/thinking about food is not helping :)


Apple Turnovers

   * I had a quote from a Redwall book (I believe it was Martin the Warrior) that mentioned apple turnovers, so I made them this week. However, after I finished preparing this post, I discovered I've misplaced the quote! 
   I don't want to not post this week, so I'll add the quote as soon as I find it. I'm sure it'll turn up when I'm not looking for it. If you find a description in any Redwall book referring to apple turnovers, please drop me a line!

Apple turnovers are one of my favorite things to bake - rustic, fun, and easy.

They're perfect if you want apple pie but only have 1 or 2 apples.  

The flaky, generous crust surrounds a sweet apple filling. If you like, sprinkle the warm turnovers with powdered sugar.

I like to make them small - perfect for snacks and sharing.

Pie crust is cut into rectangles using a 3" x 5" index card as a template.

An apple is chopped small and combined with sugar and spices....

.....then spooned onto the crusts.

The edges are brushed with milk, folded together, and sealed with a fork -  then the turnovers are brushed with milk, sprinkled with sugar and baked. 

Another bonus is that it only takes 15 min. to bake these and they can be eaten warm, unlike apple pie, which has to bake for almost an hour and cooled for more than 2. 

Apple Turnovers
Makes 12-14 small turnovers

1/2 batch Pie Crust
1 large apple (I used Pink Lady, but any kind will work)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2-3 drops vanilla extract
Raw sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out the crust to 1/8" thickness (directions on how to do this can be found here). Using a 3" x 5" index card as a template, cut out as many rectangles of crust as will fit. Move rectangles to a plate, re-roll crust, and repeat until all crust is used. Place rectangles in the freezer. 

2. Cut the apple into small (1/4" x 1/4") chunks. Combine with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. 

3. Measure a small amount of both milk and raw sugar into separate bowls. Remove the crust rectangles from the freezer and arrange them on baking sheets. Place a scant tablespoon of filling to one side on each rectangle. Brush the edges with milk and fold in half. Pinch to seal and press edges together with a fork. Brush the turnovers with milk, sprinkle with raw sugar, and poke a hole in the top of each using a fork.

4. Bake turnovers for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown (juice may leak out and burn; this will not effect the turnovers). Cool for a few minutes before serving warm, or serve room temperature. 

Note: As you can see, I've decided to change my post format slightly. Instead of step-by-step pictures and directions, I'll post photos of just the steps that may be confusing, followed by the recipe. I think this will be better for me and for my readers!


Dandelion Cordial

"In the absence of kitchen staff, who were part of Boorab's wallguard, Mhera and Gundil helped Filorn and Friar Bobb to make the supper. Between them they made cabbage and fennel bake into pasties, which they parceled up with table linen, placing the raspberry cream turnovers on trays and filling a clean pail with dandelion cordial."
-The Taggerung, p. 246

Dandelion cordial struck me as one of Redwall's strangest beverages - I had to try it immediately. It certainly seems odd to make a drink out of what many consider a weed.  After a little research, I decided to make a dandelion-flower infused simple syrup, served with sparkling water and ice. It has a unique, sweet, bitter/nutty flavor. It seems to me to be the kind of thing you'll either love or hate - if you can't stand the smell of dandelions, you certainly will fall into the latter group. If you think you'll like it, give it a try! It's easy, and very refreshing. 


First, gather dandelions. You'll need about 100 flower heads. Most yards have an overabundance - ours no exception.

Large heads are best, but at this time of year most are on the smaller side.

The next step is to dismantle the flower heads. The yellow part of the flower is what you'll use - avoid the green fronds on the back, shown here:

Instead, grasp the soft 'petals' in the center, and twist them gently out.

The flower will look like this when you're finished:

You'll need about 1 cup of 'petals'.

Place them in a bowl.

Add 1 1/2 cups of water and stir to moisten the dandelions.

Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for at least 24 hours. 

After the mixture has steeped, assemble a strainer and a small bowl or container. 

Strain the mixture, discarding the dandelions. 

The liquid will have a amber hue.

Place the liquid in a small saucepan and add 1 cup granulated sugar....

...and a tablespoon of honey (you can omit the honey if you'd prefer).

Cook the mixture over low-medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.

Continue stirring until the mixture reaches a boil.

When it boils, stop stirring and brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush. 

Let the mixture boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Allow it to cool for a few minutes, then remove to a container to finish cooling. Store in the refrigerator until point of use.

To assemble cordial: measure 5 cups (40 oz.) of sparkling (or seltzer) water into a pitcher. Add up to 15 tablespoons of dandelion syrup, to taste.

Serve cordial over ice, with a wedge of lemon or lime if desired (I found the flavor of lime to be quite complimentary, though it does overpower the dandelion flavor somewhat).

Printable Recipe:

Dandelion Cordial
Approx. 4 servings

-Approx. 100 dandelion flower heads
-1 1/2 cups water
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 tablespoon honey (optional)
-Sparkling water (5 cups/40 oz.)
-Lime/lemon wedges (optional)

1. Remove the inner yellow parts of the flower heads (you'll need 1 cup of yellow 'petals'). Combine with water and let sit for at least 24 hours. Strain the mixture carefully and discard the dandelions.

2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, honey, and dandelion liquid. Heat over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches a boil. Stop stirring - brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Let the mixture boil for 5 minutes, without stirring. Turn off heat and let mixture cool. Store in refrigerator until use.

3. Combine sparkling water with up to 15 tbsp. of dandelion syrup, to taste. Serve cordial over ice, with lemon or lime if desired.